Ginger is an incredibly old plant that has been grown for thousands of years for both medicinal and culinary uses, especially in Asian medicine and cuisine. Ginger usually grows in rich soils in warm climates with high humidity. There are ways to mimic these conditions, specifically with a hydroponic system.
Growing ginger hydroponically provides more advantages than the standard way of cultivation. For reference, ginger is wrongly called ginger root, but what is really used to grow ginger is the rhizome of the plant; from the rhizome, new leaves grow and as the plant grows, as do new rhizomes. Most people will immediately ask if you can grow ginger in water. Yes, you can. Let’s break it down.
Sprouting ginger doesn’t produce toxins the way sprouted potatoes do, but it also doesn’t offer the same nutritional value as fresh ginger. This is because bud growth causes the ginger to wilt and dry out. So although you can eat it, it’s not nutritionally beneficial to your diet. As it ages and shrivels, ginger also starts to have less flavor. For that reason, many people will get rid of or plant their ginger once it starts to sprout instead of opting to cook with it or eat it.
That said, if you’d like to (say you bought some ginger from the store and it sprouted fast, but you don’t want to go buy another), you absolutely can! It won’t be the end of the world — just maybe a less-flavorful dish.
Sprouted ginger is, in fact, one of the most ideal times to plant the ginger! Ginger that’s planted after having already sprouted is said to have a plentiful harvest. You’ll want to cut it into roughly 2-inch pieces before planting so that each individual piece has a couple of eyes it can grow from. The sprouted ginger will give you more ginger to plant and grow, thus resulting in more ginger to harvest.
There are numerous benefits to growing ginger in a hydroponic system. Here are just a few:
- Hydroponic systems allow faster growth, as these provide constant and available nutrition. It helps plants grow up to 50% faster than if they were to grow in soil. Not only that, but hydroponic plants do not have to worry about season changes, allowing any produce to be grown year-round.
- Because hydroponic gardening removes the need for herbicides and pesticides used in soil gardening, it is also better for the environment.
- Water used in the hydroponic system can be reused, reducing the use of freshwater. Hydroponic systems can use less than 10% of the water compared to field-grown plants.
- Gardening land around the world is in short supply. If you’re one of those people who does not have the space for a big garden, hydroponics is the perfect solution because it lends itself well to indoor gardening for apartments, city living, or small houses.
- Hydroponics allow for impressive space savings. Normally, a plant’s roots will expand throughout the soil in search of food and oxygen. This does not happen in a hydroponic system because the plant is directly in contact with an oxygenated nutrient solution and important minerals. What does that mean? It means you can grow plants much closer together and grow more of them.
- Unlike leaving your plants outside in a garden, hydroponics allows for complete control of temperature, humidity, the intensity of the light, and even the composition of the air. This allows the person to grow any plant at all times of the year, regardless of the weather.
Are you convinced yet? If so, let’s jump right into how to grow ginger hydroponically. Don’t worry; we will take it step-by-step.
Growing ginger hydroponically is not complicated. All it takes is patience, a few tools, and a lot of love.
To begin, surprisingly, you will not be rooting the ginger in water quite yet. Don’t worry, the ginger will be grown hydroponically for most of its life, but it’s important to root the rhizome in compost first and then move it to a hydroponic system. First, cut the rhizome into several pieces with a bud on each. It’s a good idea to plant several to ensure germination. Fill a pot with compost, then take your rhizomes and plant them roughly 1 inch into the soil. Water the plant on a regular basis. How do you know if your rhizomes have germinated? They will produce stems and some leaves.
- While your rhizomes are germinating, you can prepare your hydroponic system to receive the ginger. Your container will need to be decently sized depending on how many plants you are growing. Each plant requires 1 square foot of growing space, and the tray you use should be between 4 to 6 inches deep.
- Once your rhizomes have germinated, remove the strongest ones from the soil and rinse off the roots. In your tray, put down 2 inches of soil, place your new ginger plants on top of the soil and spread out the roots (make sure that each plant is spaced a foot apart), then pour more soil to cover the roots and hold the plants in place.
- Hook up your system to water and feed your plants every two hours with a hydroponic nutrient solution; you do not need to be fancy, any standard solution will work. Regularly test the pH of the fluid to make sure it is between 5.5 and 8.0. Put the plants in light for 16 to 18 hours a day and let them rest for six to eight hours.
- Within four months, the plants will have produced more rhizomes and can be harvested. Take the rhizomes, wash and dry them, then store in a cool, dry place.
There are incredible benefits to using a hydroponic system for ginger and any other plant. Anyone with the patience and time can grow their own ginger without a big backyard or even a house. Hydroponic growing is the perfect solution for any apartment-dwellers with a green thumb, and by following these steps, you won’t ever have to buy ginger from the store again.
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